Monday, February 27, 2012
Bullying and Bras - What You Can Do
This Wednesday is Pink Shirt Day, an awareness day that raises awareness about bullying in schools, in the workplace, at home and on the Internet and more importantly, how to stop it. On Friday I attended the CKNW fund-raiser in aid of Pink Shirt Day (proceeds raised went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver) because I know what it's like to be bullied and especially as a busty teen.
One Amazing Parent Can Save You From Bullies
As an adult of course I know that my bullies were insecure girls lashing out but at the time it was very difficult. I was very fortunate that I had a fabulous Mum who knew how to buoy my spirits and stop me from believing the hurtful things being said about me. That was the key, keeping me from buying into the dreadful things being said about my body/hair/behaviour. In later life I found out she hoisted her own formidable bust round to the parents' homes and confronted them about their children's behaviour - she's a force to be reckoned with!
What Moms AND Dads Can Do
The role of parents in supporting girls who are being bullied is absolutely critical and it stems from not being a bully yourself. I know this sounds harsh but too many women have stories of being made to feel a freak by their own families. If you are a small-busted woman whose teenage daughter develops very quickly or substantially I understand that it is foreign territory. The best thing you can do is find someone who has the knowledge to get, and keep, your daughter in the right bras. A great fitter will know that you need to fit teenagers with sensitivity and education. By instilling a sense of confidence in a teen then her boobs belong to her and not the bullies or testosterone driven boys. As the father of a well-developed teen it is vital that you don't make her feel ashamed of her figure. Insist upon age appropriate clothing, of course, but there's a difference between dressing appropriately and being made to feel you have to hide your shape. Some men will always judge her for her shape, don't be the first one to do it.
The Long-term Effects of Bullying
The lasting effects of being bullied about having large breasts can be a self-loathing or embarrassment about your body. I speak to women every single week who want to hide their boobs or make them appear much smaller. This is rarely a style thing and almost always stems from a lack of confidence in their appearance. It breaks my heart that they feel their body is 'wrong' or 'bad'. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being busty, it doesn't say anything about your personality, it's just genetics!
I know it doesn't help that Society equates large breasts with promiscuity or lack of intelligence. Through my 20s I was constantly battling the stereotype of blonde and big-boobed (my favourite was an editor at The Times newspaper saying "I mistook you for blonde but really you're a business woman.") But I do know that you can defy and stand against the stereotypes as long as you believe in who you are.
Investing in our Daughters and Ourselves
Last week I wrote a response to a blog where the author was berating her breasts for being too big as a teen, then too small in her 20s, then too uneven, then too deflated. She used the word hate several times and it just frustrated the life out of me that we're bullying our own bodies. One reader left the most beautiful response, she wrote:
"I hope that I can help my daughter, by buying her great bras that fit beautifully at all stages of her development, by talking to her about what it means to have breasts and be sexualized. By being and recognizing that I am an attractive and confident person, despite my breasts and because of them. It's a complicated relationship but a worthy one to get right."
In one sentence she summed up the key to 'breast happiness'. "I am an attractive and confident person, despite my breasts and because of them." Our breasts don't define our personalities but they're also nothing to be ashamed of. This is the message we need to instill in our daughters and in ourselves. It's never too late to shed the layer of skin that we allowed other people to define and see yourself in a whole new light.
I hope that if you or your child is being bullied you start talking about it to someone you trust. Bullies thrive on inaction. By exposing their behaviour they quickly have no where left to hide. Most of all I hope you don't allow a bully to define how you or your daughter feel about yourself xx